A quiet start to the last week of the year following the extended holiday weekend. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 19 points to 12,274. The S&P 500 Index dropped 2 points to 1,262. The Nasdaq Composite shed 7 points to 2,611. The averages are set to close pretty much flat for one of the most volatile years in history. "The market remains undervalued on a historical basis, which offers support to the downside, but does little to initiate inspiration to the upside," said Marc Pado, U.S. market strategist at Cantor Fitzgerald. The stock and sectors that have performed well all year continue to perform well. Healthcare, utilities, and consumer staples look good. In fact, virtually all the top stocks in each sector are hitting new 52 week highs this morning. Mead Johnson Nutrition is jumping 5% on optimism the company will be able to sell their popular kids Enfamil formula once again following an exhausting safety review. The techs are perking up with Apple and Google trading close to their 52 week highs. VMware is up 3% on an upgrade. Salesforce.com and KLA-Tencor are also higher on upgrades. The financials remain the weakest sector. All the big banks are lower. Visa and MasterCard are two financials trading higher. Goldman upped estimates for Visa. MetLife is up a percent as they decided to sell off their retail deposit business to GE Capital. MetLife desperately wants to get out from under the banking regulations. A few blow ups in the retail space this morning. Whirlpool is down 6% on a downgrade. Sears is the dog of the day down 20% following disappointing same store sales and the admission they will close 100-120 Kmart and Sears stores. Not a good sign. Through the morning the averages snuck into the green. Through the morning and afternoon the averages moved sideways on light volume. Pretty boring day as we limped into the close. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 2 points to close at 12291. The S&P 500 added a penny to close at 1,265 while the Nasdaq Composite tacked on 6 points to close at 2,625.
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